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Waiting Rooms Full As People Fight Colds, Flu

January 8, 2013, 5:54 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Waiting Rooms Full As People Fight Colds, Flu

Are you feeling fluish?  Numbers are up and doctors are feeling it too. But when should you make an appointment and when should you just walk-in?

The flu hit South Dakotans earlier this year.  January and February are typically the busy times, but already, waiting rooms are full as people seek treatment for their symptoms.

"Walk-ins maybe don't take precedent, but we do still try to see you. There may be a little wait time, but we do try to squeeze you in," Sanford Dr. Wallace Fritz said.

Fritz says that's why in most cases, you should at least try your primary care physician first.

"Your primary care provider knows you well. Knows your medical history and knows how you look when you're healthy and when you're sick. So that could be of benefit as well," Fritz said.

The advantages to acute care are usually in the timing.  Clinic hours generally stop by evening.  Acute care is open when they are not until 9 p.m. most nights and during weekends. Fritz says if you can't wait that's the time to go.

"Broken bones, lacerations, illnesses with a lot of nausea and vomiting to the point of dehydration.  Certainly those are ideal for acute care," Fritz said.

But even if you do go to Acute Care, expect to visit with your primary doctor too. Fritz says Sanford makes a point to follow-up all of its walk-in patients, whether you call ahead or go after hours.

"We can see if you're getting better or if you're worsening. A lot of time with acute care, they'll schedule a visit with your primary provider just to make sure there's a resolution of the disease," Fritz said.

But hopefully you can stay healthy and avoid the flu or any other unscheduled doctor visit all-together.     

Fritz says not to be alarmed if you are asked to wear a mask while waiting to see the doctor. They hand them out this time of year to protect everyone from potentially dangerous illnesses like the flu.

Flu Resources

Influenza Symptoms (CDC):
• Fever of 100 or higher or feeling feverish/chills (not everyone will have a fever)
• Cough and/or sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Headaches
• Fatigue (tiredness)
• Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

When To Call A Doctor About The Flu (WebMD)

Monitor Flu Activity:
South Dakota Department of Health

National Surveillance

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